Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team Executive Director Toto Wolff said that today’s qualifying performance was “a great starting point“, but that “the hard work is still to be done.“
Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas qualified in first and second respectively, though Bottas will start from sixth following a grid penalty due to a gearbox change.
The team’s strong performance, Wolff says, is thanks to both the track and the temperature suiting the Mercedes car more than those at the previous race.
“The car has been performing well all day – the combination of track surface, layout and temperatures is suiting us much better than a week ago in Sepang.
“The swings of performance we have seen this season prove that this is a complicated science for each of the teams, and that small factors make a big difference to the final result. Today’s result brings us another piece of the puzzle to help our understanding.“
Whilst the season may be long, with different tracks suiting different cars, Mercedes were in a different class – with Hamilton posting a time nearly half a second faster than his closest rival Sebastian Vettel, and Bottas also beating Vettel’s time.
Despite Bottas’ penalty, the team are still confident that he can achieve a good result, saying that starting on Soft tyres opens up more opportunities in the race.
“As for the performance this afternoon, Lewis was untouchable today; he just built up the performance level lap by lap and improved with every run. On the other side of the garage, Valtteri did everything he needed to. He will start on the Soft tyre, which will open up alternative strategies for him tomorrow, and delivered a very strong performance in Q3, finding time on each lap.
“Overall, a great starting point for tomorrow’s race. But the hard work is still to be done.”